Peninsula: Whaling activists may sue over whale meat

NEAH BAY — Olympic National Park could face a lawsuit over failing to prevent Makah tribal members from harvesting meat from a beached whale.

Antiwhaling activist Dan Spomer said Wednesday that several environmental groups are discussing pending legal action against the park.

“I believe the actions of the Makah in harvesting the beached whale within Olympic National Park were in violation of federal law but that is a secondary matter right now,” said Spomer, a leader of the Washington Citizens' Coastal Alliance in Sekiu.

“The real story here is that the National Park Service knowingly acted illegally in allowing Makah tribal members to harvest the beached whale.”

Olympic National Park Assistant Superintendent Roger Rudolph disagrees.

According to Rudolph, the 1855 treaty between the Makah and the federal government provides for whaling in “usual and accustomed” areas, including within the boundaries of Olympic National Park, which was created more than 80 years after the treaty was signed.

“As we stand now, I'll stand by our relations with the Makah nation and stand by honoring that treaty,” he said.

“If the legal arena finds it differently, I will certainly respect our judicial system as well.”

The threat of legal action follows the beaching of a gray whale June 10 at Yellow Banks Beach, 30 miles south of the Makah Reservation.

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